With the 2012 NHL Draft only a couple weeks away, it is time to start looking at possible prospects the Dallas Stars are looking at with the 13th overall selection. Last week I looked at center Brendan Gaunce (read here), then just before the weekend I took some time to look at center Radek Faksa (right here). In each post I will look at the prospect, what he brings to the table, where he could go in the first round, and why the Stars should be looking at him. Follow Blackout Dallas on Twitter and LIKE on Facebook for more discussion!
Girgensons is another overseas import center that should be taken in the first round of the draft. But unlike Faksa, he isn’t relatively new to the United States. Zemgus spent the last couple of seasons playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, but he has been playing in North America since he was 15. The native of Latvia will likely become the first ever Latvian taken in the first round, and part of that is likely because he came over to the states and has developed on this side of the Atlantic. Over the last two seasons he has played 100 games for the Fighting Saints, and in that time he has 45 goals and 59 assists with a +24 rating. He led the team to a Clark Cup title last year and into the playoffs again this season (12 points in 13 playoff games over the two years), while also being one of a few bright spots on the Latvian team in international play over the past couple years.
Girgensons looks like a solid two-way center with a mix of size, good hands, tenacity, and good skating abilities. The intriguing mix is that he has great hands and a pass-first mentality at times with the puck, but will play physical nightly and shows a gritty style when he needs to. Zemgus plays well in all zones on the ice and shows significant upside as a potential two-way center that can play on the wing when needed and be a top-six forward down the road. At 6’2″ and about 200 lbs, he already has the size, it is simply a matter of him filling out a little more and continuing to develop down the road he is already on. On top of the mix of offensive skills with good hands and defensive capabilities with physical play, Girgensons has shown that he can be a leader and has intangibles. He served as captain this season for Dubuque and as an assistant captain for the national team. He does need to fill out some and his playmaking skills will need to continue to improve if he is to become a big threat at the NHL level, but he looks promising. The only major knock on him is that he has chosen to go the college route, committing to the University of Vermont. While he is probably a couple of years away from being NHL ready anyway, this could mean that he is tied up for three or four years in the NCAA, something some teams aren’t a fan of it. But he has been drafted in the KHL, WHL, and will soon be taken in the first round of the NHL draft. If a team is willing to wait a few years, they could be rewarded nicely. Thing is that the Stars might not be able to wait that long on a center.
Tough physical presence in that he cannot be removed from the puck and has the tenacity, desire and grit to come get when he wants it. Attacks the net often and owns a soft touch which allows him to work magic with the puck. Can absolutely rifle a booming shot to the net. Has an outstanding work ethic, both on and off the ice.” – Reel Hockey Scouting
Why the Dallas Stars should draft him: Read the above description and tell me that you wouldn’t want that out of someone that the Stars could draft. He is yet another center with some size and hockey sense like Gaunce and Faksa, it might just be a matter of who is there and which player the Stars like the most when they come up. He knows how to use his size and strength in the offensive zone, but he has better hands than the other two center prospects I’ve covered so far. This blurs the lines, as he can play the power forward role, but at times show the smooth hands around the net and with the puck that many power forwards don’t develop. A center that can bring that and who shows up every night while continuing to improve his feet could be a great add for the Stars.
He will be drafted around: He will come off the board somewhere around the 12th-18th picks. Like Gaunce, his upside looks more like a 2nd liner and not a first, but he shows a little more offensive flare and is a little bit more of a wild card in the middle of the draft.
NHL players that he compares to: Ryan Kesler and R.J. Umberger if he doesn’t develop much more for some reason.